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Big Obstacles to Young People in Local ChurchHis iron bed is still Rabbah of the Ammonites, nine cubits long and four cubits wide, measured by a man’s forearm” (Deut. 3:11).

…the bed (would be) about 13 ft. long (using common cubit of 17.5 inches) and nearly 6 feet wide, an impressive size even today with our so-called king-size beds. King Og may have had such a large bed as a sign of prestige, or perhaps as the result of a royal whim. But the more likely explanation is that he needed a large bed because he was so tall… this tells us that Og was one of the few Rephaim left; the Rephaim were a race of giants – or perhaps very tall people.

The puzzling question is why the biblical text should preserve such a notice about King Og’s iron bed. This has troubled many scholars who have concluded that what the text is really referring to is not an iron bed, but a stone sarcophagus, a more likely candidate for public display and literary commemoration. Accordingly, if you look at the United Bible Society’s Good News Bible, you will see the text refers to King Og’s “coffin made of stone.”… The New English Bible tells us that Og had a “sarcophagus of basalt” with a footnote “or iron” for basalt. Other translations, like the NIV, reverse the process and place a footnote at “bed” that says “or sarcophagus.”…

The Hebrew phrase is “eres barzel”, bed of iron. For a bed to serve also as a bier is understandable, both practically and semantically; however, both Hebrew and Phoenician use a different word (“rn”) for the different object (coffin)… which enclosed the body. There is not really any evidence that the semantic range of “eres” extends so widely as to include a coffin.

Scholars who transformed iron (“barzel”) into stone have been equally imaginative. One prominent exegete urged that by “barzel” “is meant probably the black basalt of the country, which actually contains a proportion of iron (about 20%). This claim has often been repeated…

First, we should not think of Og’s bedstead as being solid iron. Most likely, it was decorated with iron. The situation with ivory is an obvious analogy. The Hebrew Bible contains references to “a throne of ivory” (“Kisse sen”, I Kings 10:18; 2 Chron. 9:17), to “beds of ivory” (“mittot sen,” Amos 6:4) and even “a house” and “palaces of ivory” (“bet hassan”, I Kings 22:39; “hekle sen”, Ps 45:8)…. Archaeological discoveries at Samaria and in Assyrian towns have demonstrated that this furniture was not made of ivory… rather the ivory served as a decoration, plating, veneer, and paneling…

Why Iron?

But you may ask, why should a bed be decorated with a dull, utilitarian metal like iron? And, even if it were, why should it merit special mention, almost like an interruption in the text?…

The answer is simple. At that time iron was a kind of precious metal! And Og’s bed was especially large….

In a famous cuneiform letter, a Hittite King named Hattusili III (c. 1289-1265 B.C.) replied to a request for iron from someone who may have been the king of Assyria. The Hittite king replied by saying that the iron was not available at present in the amount required, but that it would be produced later. In the meantime, he was sending one dagger-blade of iron a gesture of good intent. That such a small amount would be adequate to establish good royal intentions indicates how highly valued iron was…

In Southern Turkey, an ivory box was unearthed from a level of 18th century B.C. decorated with studs of gold, lapis lazuli, and iron.